Student - May 28, 2009

FOOD DICTIONARY IN 29 LANGUAGES

Do you want to buy garlic in Japan? Or make sure there are no peanuts in your Sudanese meal? Then you should first consult www.fooddictionary.eu. Rolf Hartemink, the initiator, has big plans for the site: it ‘has less than a thousand words now, but we are going to get up to well over five thousand.’

It started as a hobby with the website food-info.net, explains Hartemink, Programme director at Food Technology and Food Safety – and this formed the basis for the digital food dictionary. ‘As a by-product, we made an allergy dictionary two years ago, to help people to explain their allergies when they are abroad’, says Hartemink. ‘There was such a big response to this that we decided to put together a general food dictionary.’

It turned out to be quite a complicated programming job. But an IT student hired for the job managed to get the site up and running. And how! The dictionary is a treasure house of information. If you search for ‘garlic’ you get the Latin name, the English description and the translation in numerous languages such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese. Searching for ‘Beta-carotene’ will produce the Dutch synonym, the molecular formula, the E number and the chemical registration number (CAS).

The website’s expected user group is broad – in fact, says Hartemink, ‘everyone is in our target group: consumers and companies, as well as tourists who want to look up an unfamiliar product in a foreign country, and travellers with a food allergy.’

The costs to date are zero, as Hartemink has mainly made use of students and volunteers. To obtain photo and video material, he has worked closely with the Rijn IJssel vocational college, which runs both cookery and multimedia courses. He has also spent hours of his own free time on extending the word list. This autumn, when he presents the website at Anuga, a major food trade fair, it should contain more than five thousand words.

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